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I’ve been playing Civilization lately. You lead an empire, starting with one city, researching agriculture and pottery, advancing into a nation with currency and airplanes and hospitals. Much of the game is the tech tree: Researching Airplanes requires Combustion and Physics, which require Gunpowder and Astronomy, which require…
What’s Direct Magick’s tech tree? What are the central techniques, the ones that unlock everything else? And what can this tell us about learning and teaching direct magick?
The most central technique is probably sensory connections. This is how I know what I’m connected to, how I recognize tendons vs muscles vs other tissues, and tell the difference between inflammation, infection, tears, and other injuries. It’s how I know which part of my mind I’m connected to, how I follow the power that enters my ethereal muscles so I can awaken new muscles quickly, and how I create connections between my ethereal muscles and my brain so I can direct them precisely.
But I didn’t develop sensory connections to do any of that. No, I developed sensory connections (and most other connections) for fighting.
For my first decade of magick, I was bothered by spirits quite often. Nothing too serious — some energy drained here, someone overly-curious there. More annoying than dangerous, but a constant stream of practice.
(Why me? Probably because I was self-taught, didn’t use ethereal software to cleanse or shield myself, poked at whatever software I found (attracting the attention of whatever spirits used it), and generally did things a good teacher would probably have steered me clear of. But I learned from it, and I don’t regret any of it.)
All that fighting made me learn about connections. I learned to notice them, block them, slip them through shields. I learned to use small ones that my opponent would miss, and strong ones that could push through defenses. I learned to make lots of connections, so my opponent couldn’t track them all, and to switch types of connections (from body to mind to ethereal software to something else) faster than they could respond. I learn connections, and I learned to use them well.
I don’t want that walk down memory lane to come off as puffing myself up too much — none of that let me heal someone, or create luck, or do much of anything beyond fighting. Connections are a necessary part of magick, but they aren’t much use in themselves. If you wanted to learn to heal someone, you’d never say, “Let me first learn to push a connection through an opponent’s shields.” But sometimes, unrelated skills turn out to be the prerequisites. And for me, learning connections let me develop sensory connections, which lead to everything else.
So I’m thinking, Direct Magick’s tech tree might just require fighting. At least for anyone developing it themselves, without the aid of a guide to say, “Learn connections. Trust me, they’ll be useful later.”
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